APC’s policy manager, Willie Currie, responds to an editorial on the digital divide from The Economist magazine in which it derided the Digital Solidarity Fund that had been welcomed by governments at the WSIS Prepcom 2.
Like bright flowers in a grey space, the grassroots women of India livened up February’s Prepcom proceedings and it wasn’t just their stylish saris that did the trick. Undaunted by the suits and officialdom of Geneva’s UN machinery, these Indian representatives vigorously demonstrated the value of ICTs in their working lives and made a cogent case for finances to build more equitable ICT infrastructures in developing countries like India. Over chappatis and chi, they shared their stories with Maud Hand for APCNews.
APC REPORT: Finance of information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) at Prepcom 2
“Internet Governance is Important…it would have been more so, if people HAD the Internet…LET’S TALK FINANCING FIRST!” proclaimed a t-shirt worn at PrepCom 2. Who will finance info technology for development is an intensely ideological issue. WSIS 1 established a Task Force on Financial Mechanisms to break the deadlock amongst governments and to make recommendations for WSIS 2 to adopt. Those recommendations were presented and debated at PrepCom 2. This report from APC looks at the issues on (and off) the table.
When Ayesha Hassan contributed to the Open Consultations on Internet Governance in the run up to WSIS, it was clear that the business sector’s concerns were in competent hands. This stylishly suited lawyer, a Senior Policy Manager on ICT for the International Chamber of Commerce, leads the CCBI – the Co-ordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors at the conference. Maud Hand hears how this business interlocutor stays in command of her committee during PrepCom 2.
Internet governance brings together two largely impenetrable realms for the average WSIS delegate: the nuts and bolts of the internet – what it is, how it works- and who manages those nuts and bolts. It is too early to predict what the final impact of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) will be. But there is no doubt that it has created a much-needed space. “At a time of global malaise, indifference and lack of faith and legitimacy in many of our global and national governance institutions, the internet governance debate is one where civil society advocates can make a real difference,” concludes APC in this new report which covers the main developments in the internet governance debate.
As executive coordinator of the Secretariat of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), Markus Kummer prepares sessions, facilitates their work and writes up their reports after meetings. But, as he explains to Maud Hand in a quiet moment prior to PrepCom 2, Phase 2, unlike the classical secretariat tasks of any international working group, the multi-stakeholder make up of WGIG makes for a very different job.
A divergent discourse between what governments say in Switzerland and what they say at home, the almost complete lack of interaction between government and civil society representatives and an absence of civil society voices from the non-technical sector, characterised the South Asian presence in Geneva conclude Bangalore activists, IT for Change.
Olinca Marino from LaNeta, APC member in Mexico, has been following the WSIS process since its beginning. In this report she comments on the united front shown by Latin American governments at PrepCom 2 but notes that the front begins to fall apart significantly in two areas that civil society activists care passionately about – free software and community radio.
APC in a statement welcomed the new Digital Solidarity Fund founded by the President of Senegal which was launched on March 14, calling it "a valuable financial mechanism for ICT for development".
Spanish APC member, Pangea, has been at the service of the community of people and organisations that work for social change for more than a decade. It has dedicated itself to this by facilitating communication through e-mail and conferences, internet and web connections. On 9 March 2005 Pangea will commemorate this with a special conference attended, as distinguished guests, by Julian Casabuenas (Colnodo) and Dafne Plou (APC Women’s Networking Support Programme).